The State of Texas: July 21, 2014
Thought of the Day
The idea of a sovereign Texas nation is one of those great thought experiments. Like “what if the British won the war?” or “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie-roll pop?” After hearing of news of a proposal to split California into six states, the Houston Chronicle got in on the chin-scratching with a slideshow on how the United States of Texas would look. Back in 2012, Texas Monthly took at look at this very important question as well.
The girl who played Mel Gibson’s daughter in The Patriot died in her Houston home on Saturday at the age of twenty-one. The cause of death is unknown.
A Minor Problem — Determing what to do with the desperate, unaccompanied minors at the border was just the first part of the border crisis. Now controversy and trouble follow the kids as they make their way past the holding cell and into the court system. The Austin American-Statesman went down to McAllen and came back with a great feature on how the young are put through the legal system, including a detailed account from eighteen-year-old, José S. Then there’s the problem of how to classify the new arrivals. Some are calling for refugee status, with one lawyer saying “Resisting the gangs [back home] is a political statement. It’s a form of civil disobedience.” The Houston Chronicle has also published a story on the recent “wave of resistance” to “the federal government’s efforts to open new shelters to handle the unprecedented influx of 57,000 children making the perilous trek here alone over the last nine months …” The debate is no small thing for Houston, which is looked upon as the promised land for many of those crossing over via unauthorized ways, and opposition against humanitarian efforts appears to be growing. “At least four counties and one city in the Houston area are weighing or have already approved resolutions to oppose federal efforts to put new shelters in their area.”
Jailhouse Disaster — The housing unit roof of a privately run prison in Diboll collapsed Saturday, “temporarily trapping dozens of inmates and injuring 20 – 10 of whom went to nearby hospitals,” reports the Associated Press. The cause of the accident wasn’t immediately known. According to the Houston Chronicle, a” team of engineers and investigators with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will visit” the jail today. “Since the damaged housing unit is not livable, the inmates normally housed there were transferred to another facility Saturday and will remain there until the damage has been repaired, according to a statement.”
Farmville IRL — Oh, how the times have changed. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal has a wonderful and interesting piece on how farmers are using the latest technology to do more than guesstimate their work with last year’s Almanac. The piece folcuses on cotton farmer Craig Kitten, whose use of high-tech methods is the new normal for Old McDonald. “When the technology was first introduced about 20 years ago, farmers had to download and graph the data from probes dug 40 inches or deeper into the ground. …Now, with software improvements and the proliferation of cellphones and towers, the moisture readings are automatically downloaded at regular intervals and shipped remotely to the Internet, ready to be uploaded on a smartphone or laptop.” Apart from the essentials, the technology is obviously helping farmers quickly access things like the weather and commodity prices. Even turning their wells on and off is now as simple as poking a screen. Not that any kid with an iPad and a wifi connection can just get up and start farming. There’s still not an app for hardwork and experience.
Party On, Texas — It seems that, despite the years-long drought, we’re getting really good at having a great time in the summer heat. Food and fun blog The Thrillist just came out with a list of America’s ten best party lakes, and Lake Travis is prominently featured. If you’ve ever been there on the Memorial Day or July Fourth weekends, then you know the hot spots at the lake would put Dionysus to shame. Texas made another list, too, albeit one that’s a tad more suspicious. A real estate blog crunched some seemingly arbitrary figures—average temperature, number of shark attacks, ice cream shops—and found that Texas was the country’s fourth-best state for beach fun. The results are a bit questionable because, well, New York came in at number one and Florida at number ten. But hey, a win’s a win and Texas does have a small, dedicated surf culture.